WASHINGTON - The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid fell sharply last week as a temporary spike caused by Superstorm Sandy has faded. Weekly applications have fallen back to a level consistent with modest hiring.
The Labor Department says applications dropped 25,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 370,000.
Unemployment aid applications spiked a month ago after Sandy shuttered businesses in the Northeast. Applications jumped to 451,000 in the week ended Nov. 10. People can claim unemployment benefits if their workplaces are forced to close and they aren't paid.
The impact of the storm can still be seen in the four-week average. It rose to 408,000 last week.
Before the storm, applications had fluctuated this year between 360,000 and 390,000. That has coincided with only modest declines in the unemployment rate.